Leveraging Emotional Connections in Customer Loyalty Programs
There are three different types of customer loyalty: rational, habitual and emotional.
Rational loyalty occurs when customers shop somewhere due to price. However, they will go elsewhere if they can find a better deal. Behavior loyalty happens when customers shop somewhere because it is most convenient, which is driven by habit rather than commitment to the brand. All companies should strive for emotional loyalty: these are engaged customers who feel dedicated to and passionate about the brand.
All businesses should retain customers who are delighted to shop at the store. They will recommend the brand to their friends and family members. They will gladly spend more at this store because they know they are getting their money’s worth. Rational and behavioral loyalties are advantageous, but emotional loyalty will grow your business exponentially.
How Can Brands Create Emotional Loyalty With Consumers?
The first step to creating emotional loyalty is to discover what customers want out of a brand. For the most part, there are three primary components out of a successful shopping experience.
- Differentiated shopping experiences
- Varied and real-time interaction opportunities
- Two-way interactions
One great solution to meeting all of these expectations is to develop a loyalty program. Researchers and marketers have discovered that emotion is a key driving force to profitable consumer behavior. It is this notion that drives most loyalty programs in stores around the country. Therefore, it would be in a company’s best interest to invest in empathy mapping and other similar design techniques to identify what drives their particular demographic of customers the most. For example, married couples with children will have very different loyalty factors than single millennials. A business should be willing to conduct thorough research into its primary demographics to determine what emotions are best to trigger.
What Factors Should Be Present in a Loyalty Program?
When creating a customer loyalty program, brands should focus on several key elements. The first is that by joining the program, customers will have access to unique experiences. From special reward events to the latest in merchandise rewards, it is vital to offer rewards customers cannot get anywhere else. It will make them feel appreciated for their loyalty and keep them coming back.
Customers want fully personalized experiences. The loyalty program must be relevant to what someone wants, otherwise there is no good reason to join. Brands should collect data through multiple channels to learn what consumers want most. They should develop a program that connects to people in a meaningful way that generates the most positive experience imaginable.
Finally, brands should never overlook the qualities of surprise and delight. Even simple gifts, like early access to new merchandise go a long way in extending gratitude. The gift could be so small that it becomes inconsequential to the brand, but it makes the customer feel appreciated. Customers will remain in the loyalty program because they never know what is coming next.
What Are the Benefits of Having Emotionally Connected Customers?
Once you have emotionally engaged customers, you can start reaping the benefits. First and foremost, engaged consumers spend more than the average person walking into a store for the first time. While a new customer may be hesitant to spend a lot of money at an untested store, loyal consumers know what to expect. Even if these frequent customers get discounts through the loyalty program, they will usually still end up spending more than they would have even without the discount code.
Loyal customers will also promote their favorite brands to their loved ones. For consumers, the advice of a friend or family member goes a long way. Additionally, when you have good word of mouth, your products speak for themselves, which increases profits.
Last but not least, you will always be at the top of customers’ minds when you have instilled loyalty. No matter what industry you are in, there is bound to be a lot of competition. Whether your business sells food, electronics or jewelry, customers may have dozens of options to choose from, and you want them to always think of you.
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Every brand should strive to have customers actively engaged with the business. When you invest in loyalty incentives, you further develop an emotional connection with customers, which further increases each customer’s individual value. It fosters increased spending and engagement. When others see the benefits to gain by being more connected with your brand, they will also want to join in.